On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief package in which Senator Murray helped secure much-needed relief to families, workers, small business owners, Tribes, veterans, state and local governments, and more in Washington state and across the U.S.
For more information on what is in the American Rescue Plan, and what it means for you and Washington state, see below.
The American Rescue Plan expands the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to provide more financial support for individuals and families throughout 2021. Details are below.
Child Tax Credit
Under the American Rescue Plan, the Child Tax Credit is enhanced in the following ways for 2021:
- The maximum credit is increased from $2,000 to $3,000, with an additional $600 for each child under the age of six, and extends the full credit to 17 year old children.
- The increased amount phases out at $150,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, $112,500 for heads of households, and $75,000 for individual filers.
- The CTC is fully refundable for 2021. As a result, if the maximum CTC would be greater than your tax liability, you will receive the excess from the IRS.
- The IRS will send out funds on a periodic basis starting this July until December 2021, instead of making families wait until tax season to claim the credit. Families should receive about half of the benefit of the CTC by December, and then they claim the rest on their 2021 tax return.
- The CTC is extended to families in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.
- Lowers the minimum age to claim the EITC without qualifying children from 25 to 19 (for full-time college students who are not foster youth or homeless youth, the minimum age is 24) and eliminated the upper age limit so that people age 65 and over are eligible.
- Increases the benefit from $543 to $1,502.
- Increases the amount of the EITC for taxpayers without qualifying children by doubling the phase-in and phase-out percentages from 7.65 to 15.3 percent.
- Increases the income at which the maximum credit amount is reached to $9,820, and increases the income at which the phase-out begins to $11,610 for non-joint filers.
- Repeals a provision of law in order to allow a taxpayer to claim the childless EITC if they cannot claim the EITC for otherwise qualifying children because their children do not have valid Social Security numbers.
- Allows married but separated individuals to be treated as not married for the purpose of the EITC if a joint return is not filed. This applies to taxpayers who live with a qualifying child for more than half of the year but either do not live with their spouse or have a separation decree or agreement in place.
- Ensures that workers whose earnings have declined this year because of the pandemic do not see a reduced EITC as a result.
- For 2021, the Child and Dependent Care credit is fully refundable.
- The credit is fully available to families making less than $125,000—up from $15,000—and partially available to families earning between $125,000 and $400,000.
- The child care expense limit is increased from $3,000 for one child ($6,000 for two or more) to $8,000 for one child ($16,000 for two or more). The credit is based on 50 percent of the expense amount (an increase from 35 percent). This means that families with adjusted gross income of less than $125,000 would be eligible for a $4,000 credit for one qualifying child and $8,000 for more than one qualifying child. The credit rate begins to phase out at $125,000 and plateaus at 20 percent, before phasing out completely for families making $440,000.
- The exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance is increased from $5,000 to $10,500 for 2021.
The American Rescue Plan provides $404 million in new rent and utility assistance for renters, as well as millions in mortgage assistance for homeowners in Washington state. If you are a renter looking for assistance with rent or utilities or a homeowner seeking information on mortgage or forbearance assistance, click here for information. More details are below.
In addition to the American Rescue Plan, you may be eligible for ongoing relief provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Families First”), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (COVID relief law).
Assistance for renters
The American Rescue Plan provides Washington state with $404 million in dedicated rent and utility assistance funding through the Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This funding is in addition to the $507 million Washington state received in the December COVID relief law, and the $100 million in Emergency Solutions Grants for Washington state approved through the CARES Act, which provided a critical lifeline for people and families experiencing or facing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who is Eligible?
Renter households with incomes no more than 80 percent of area median income (AMI) who meet the following conditions:
- One or more individual in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to or during the coronavirus outbreak; and
- One or more individual in the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability which includes:
- A past due utility, home energy, or rent notice or an eviction notice;
- Unsafe or unhealthy living conditions; or
- Any other evidence of such risk as determined by the grantee.
- Households with incomes of no more than 50 percent of AMI will receive priority.
Assistance can be used to pay for:
- Future rent and rental arrears;
- Future utilities and home energy costs and delinquent payments; or
- Other expenses related to housing.
Assistance will be paid directly to the landlord or utility company unless the landlord refuses to accept the funds, in which case the assistance can be paid to the renter. Landlords and owners may apply on behalf of tenants meeting the eligibility requirements, so long as the tenant cosigns the application, the landlord provides documentation to the tenant, and the payments are used to satisfy the tenant’s rental obligation to the owner.
How to Apply?
Funds are administered through cities, counties, and Tribes in the state. Click here to find more information about your local rental assistance program.
Assistance for homeowners
The American Rescue Plan also included Homeowner Assistance Fund funding for families in Washington state who are behind on their mortgages or already in foreclosure as a result of the pandemic. Funds can be used to provide homeowners with assistance to cover mortgage payments, property taxes, utility payments, or other resources to help them stay in their homes.
Who is Eligible?
The program is intended to serve homeowners who have fallen behind or at risk of falling behind on their mortgage, property tax, or utility payments due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although specific eligibility criteria will be determined by the state, at least 60 percent of the funds must go to households at or below 100 percent of area median income. Click here to find the area median income for your community.
How to Apply
Click here for more information on the Homeowner Assistance Fund and free housing counseling services.
The American Rescue Plan significantly reduces premiums in 2021 and 2022 and for some individuals reduces deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for ACA marketplace plans for 2021.
- It increases premium tax credits, which will eliminate or reduce premiums for most current marketplace enrollees.
- It also eliminates the “subsidy cliff” to ensure that working families earning more than 400 percent of Federal poverty will be eligible for marketplace premium tax credits, and will spend no more than 8.5 percent of their income in premiums.
- In addition, the American Rescue Plan exempts low- and moderate-income families from having to repay the premium tax credit they received in 2020. This will protect people who experienced unexpected changes in income in 2020 from having high repayments when filing their taxes.
- The American Rescue Plan also includes protections for people who have recently lost their jobs. It guarantees that people who receive unemployment benefits in 2021 receive the most generous premium tax credits and out-of-pocket cost reductions if they enroll in an ACA marketplace plan for 2021.
Congress has passed several rounds of financial assistance and relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including most recently the American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan includes additional relief to small businesses struggling as a result of the pandemic.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance Grants
The American Rescue Plan provided an additional $15 billion nationwide of targeted funding for the SBA’s economic injury disaster loans (EIDL) emergency advance grants. The CARES Act expanded eligibility for SBA economic injury disaster loans (EIDLs). EIDLs are loans up to $2 million with interest rates of 3.75 percent for businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits. The CARES Act also established an EIDL emergency grant program, which allows loan applicants to request an advance of up to $10,000 to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, or otherwise pay business obligations. These emergency advance grants do not need to be repaid.
The December COVID relief law restricted eligibility for EIDL advance grants to qualified applicants located in low-income communities. SBA is currently limiting consideration for advance grants to those who applied for EIDL assistance on or before December 27, 2020. This is to prioritize applicants who received capped advances or were unable to obtain an advance after funding ran out in July 2020. If you meet this description, do not submit a duplicate EIDL application. SBA will contact qualified applicants directly. The American Rescue Plan also sets aside $5 billion for a new round of $5,000 grants to the smallest and most severely impacted small businesses. Please click the link above for more information.
In September, the SBA announced critical enhancements to the EIDL program. Key changes include:
- Increasing the COVID EIDL Cap. The SBA will lift the COVID EIDL cap from $500,000 to $2 million. Loan funds can be used for any normal operating expenses and working capital, including payroll, purchasing equipment, and paying debt.
- Implementation of a Deferred Payment Period. The SBA will ensure small business owners will not have to begin COVID EIDL repayment until two years after loan origination so that they can get through the pandemic without having to worry about making ends meet.
- Establishment of a 30-Day Exclusivity Window. To ensure Main Street businesses have additional time to access these funds, the SBA will implement a 30-day exclusivity window of approving and disbursing funds for loans of $500,000 or less. Approval and disbursement of loans over $500,000 will begin after the 30-day period.
- Expansion of Eligible Use of Funds. COVID EIDL funds will now be eligible to prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt.
- Simplification of affiliation requirements. To ease the COVID EIDL application process for small businesses, the SBA has established more simplified affiliation requirements to model those of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
Program ends December 31, 2021 or when funds are exhausted, whichever occurs sooner.
SBA Live Venue Grants Program
The American Rescue Plan provides an additional $1.25 billion nationwide for the SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) grants, a new program created in the December COVID relief law. The American Rescue Plan also allows eligible entities to access both SVO grants and PPP loans, which was previously prohibited by the December COVID relief law. The December COVID relief law provided $15 billion nationwide to a new SBA grant program for live venues impacted by the public health crisis. Eligible grant recipients include live venue operators, promoters or theatrical producers, independent movie theatre operators, museum operators, and talent representatives. Of the total amount, $2 billion is set aside for eligible entities that employ fewer than 50 full-time employees.
Employee Retention Tax Credit
The American Rescue Plan extends the employee retention tax credit through December 31, 2021. Starting June 30, the tax credit became a refundable payroll tax credit against the hospital insurance tax. The bill also expands eligibility to start-ups that began after February 15, 2020. The CARES Act created a refundable payroll tax credit for businesses and nonprofits that retain their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Please click the link above for more information on important updates to the credit included in the December COVID-19 relief law, including a larger credit amount and relaxed eligibility criteria. The December COVID-19 relief law also permits certain governmental employers to claim the credit, including state- and local-run colleges and universities and entities whose principal function is providing medical or hospital care.
The American Rescue Plan includes over $125 billion nationally in public K-12 funding, to help schools reopen safely, provide in-person instruction, and address students’ longer-term needs by providing schools with necessary resources to implement important public health measures, address learning loss that has compounded longstanding inequities in our education system, and meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. The ARP also provides support to children with disabilities through increased funding for programs authorized under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act and dedicated funding to support students experiencing homelessness. This builds on $67 billion for similar activities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) of 2021 passed during 2020.
Estimates of Education Investments in Washington State in the American Rescue Plan
- Washington state will receive an estimated $2.614 billion investment in education in the American Rescue Plan.
- Washington state Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) allocation: $1.854 billion
- 5% State reservation to address learning loss: $92.689 million
- 1% State reservation to fund evidence-based summer learning programs: $18.538 million
- 1% State reservation to fund evidence-based comprehensive afterschool programs: $18.538 million
- 2.5% State reservation for other state activities: $46.345 million, of which no more than $9.268 million may be spent by states on ESSER administration
- At least 90% of ESSER state allocation must be subgranted to WA school districts: $1.668 billion. School districts are required to use at least 20% of their ESSER subgrants to address learning loss: $333.682 million
- Washington state Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS): $45.745 million
- Washington state Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEER): $676.520 million
- Washington state Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Funds: $61.696 million
The American Rescue Plan provides nearly $40 billion for colleges and universities and their students. At least half of the funds received by colleges and universities must be used for emergency financial aid grants to students. Emergency grants to students can cover things such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. Colleges can use their institutional funds provided by ARP to defray expenses, such as lost revenue, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, and increased costs from implementing public health measures related to COVID-19 such as testing, contact tracing, and vaccination. This builds on an additional $36.2 billion in higher education funding provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) of 2021 passed during 2020. In total the CARES Act, CRRSAA, and American Rescue Plan together provided an unprecedented $76.5 billion to institutions of higher education and the students they enroll. The American Rescue Plan provided more than half of all the funding available for colleges through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
In addition to the American Rescue Plan, you may be eligible for various forms of ongoing relief provided by previous COVID-19 relief laws, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Families First”), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) of 2021, as well as executive actions taken by President Biden. The information below details various forms of relief provided to college students and student loan borrowers by Congress. For example, the CARES Act importantly established a freeze on student loan payments, interest, and collections for nearly 40 million student loan borrowers that has since been extended by President Biden through January 31, 2022.
Federal Student Loan Payments
The Biden Administration has extended the student loan relief provisions originally authorized by the CARES Act. If you have a student loan held by the U.S. Department of Education, all of your payments are suspended through January 31, 2022, and you will not accumulate interest during that time. Unfortunately, borrowers with commercially-held Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL), school-held Perkins Loans, or Public Health Service Act loans are not automatically eligible for this forbearance, but if you have this type of federal loan, you can generally consolidate such loan into a Direct Loan to obtain the freeze on payments or interest. Click here for more information on consolidating your loans.
In March of 2020, borrowers with federally-held student loans had their student loan payments frozen and interest waived during the national emergency. Borrowers will return to repayment and interest will resume after January 31, 2022. The U.S. Department of Education will notify and remind student loan borrowers when payments will begin to resume. These notices are intended to provide a transition period to help borrowers stay on track as regular loan payments begin again and to enroll in other relief options (such as income-driven repayment) at such time. For more information, click here to visit the Federal Student Aid’s website.
Student Loan Collections
You are also protected against forced collections on federally-held student loans (such as garnishment of wages, tax refunds, and Social Security benefits) and negative credit reporting through January 31, 2022. Click here for more information on federal student loan payments and collections.
Student Loan Payments by Employers
Due to provisions in the CARES Act and CRRSAA, if your employer provides a student loan repayment benefit, you can temporarily exclude up to $5,250 in these payments from your income. The $5,250 cap applies to both the new student loan repayment benefit as well as other educational assistance (e.g., tuition, fees, or books) provided by the employer under current law. The provision applies to any student loan payments made by an employer on behalf of an employee after March 27, 2020, and has been authorized through December 31, 2025.
Student Loan Relief Tax Exclusion
The American Rescue Plan ensures that all COVID-19 student loan relief is tax-free for loans cancelled between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2025. For example, if your income-driven repayment plan becomes eligible for loan forgiveness in that time period, the amount of the loan that is discharged will not be included in the calculation of your gross income and you will not be taxed on the amount.
Emergency Financial Aid Grants for Students
Colleges and universities are required to use half of the $76.5 billion in emergency funds received during the pandemic to provide emergency financial aid grants to students, which may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance, such as tuition, fees, food, housing, health care (including mental health), or child care. In making emergency financial aid grants to students, colleges and universities must prioritize grants to students with financial need. The U.S. Department of Education provides guidance to colleges and universities about this assistance, along with eligibility and administrative guidelines. The Department under the Biden administration has clarified through a final rule that all students enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency grants regardless of whether they completed a FAFSA or are eligible for federal financial aid, including undocumented and international students. Click here for more information from the U.S. Department of Education.
Increased Financial Aid Due to Unemployment
COVID-19 has created widespread economic disruption. Students may have the ability to get an increase in their Federal, State, or institutional financial aid through a process known as a “Professional Judgment” if the student, or a supporting family member, lost their job and is unemployed or has significantly lower income than when the student filled out their FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education has reminded colleges of their ability to make these adjustments. Students should contact their financial aid office for more information.
Increased Child Tax Credit
At least 1 in 5 students are parenting a child while enrolled in college, and student parents face disproportionate rates of food and housing insecurity. The American Rescue Plan contained a massive expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to $3,000 per child, or $3,600 for children under 6. Note that, like the Economic Impact Payments, a student must file taxes to claim the CTC. The changes also made the credit fully refundable and extended support to dependents ages 17 or under. Many families may receive the benefit monthly, up to $300 a month per child from July through the end of 2021.
Help with Food
CRRSAA provided a temporary expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help students and families afford food. Students with an “expected family contribution” of $0 (which includes students receiving the maximum Pell Grant amount of $6,495) and students who are eligible for Federal Work-Study qualify for this temporary expansion. The U.S. Department of Education emailed students who have an expected family contribution of $0, and students may present the email communication to local and State SNAP agencies. Students who are eligible for Federal Work-Study should contact their financial aid office. Students should contact their local SNAP offices to find out how to apply. For other questions about their SNAP eligibility, click here to view the SNAP State Directory.
Help with Broadband Access
Under CRRSAA, a new “Emergency Broadband Benefit” provided a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible low-income households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Students who are eligible for federal Pell Grants are also eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price. The Federal Communications Commission is implementing the Emergency Broadband Benefit, and you can click here for more information.
Help with Health Care
The American Rescue Plan provides $34 billion to help individuals purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act and caps health insurance payments for all Americans to 8.5% of household income through the end of 2022.
Additional Resources for Federal Financial Aid Questions
Federal Student Aid
The U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid can help answer questions about the type of loans a student holds and what kinds of relief are available.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can review complaints and help to navigate financial products like student loans.
The American Rescue Plan includes $40 billion in child care funds to support child care providers and prevent further closures, ensure child care workers—the majority of whom are women and women of color—don’t continue to lose their jobs, and ensure working families have access to quality, affordable child care. $15 billion of these funds go to the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to subsidize child care for 875,000 children over the next year. $25 billion are child care stabilization funds to save and sustain nearly 449,000 child care programs, impacting 7.3 million children. The bill also includes $1 billion for Head Start to ensure programs can continue to provide vital services to children and families.
Estimates of Investments in Child Care, Early Childhood, and Families in Washington State in the American Rescue Plan
- Washington state Child Care: $635 million
- $244 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program
- $391 million for a new child care stabilization grant program to support child care providers throughout the pandemic. Providers can click here to apply for a stabilization grant.
- Washington state Head Start grantees: Over $13 million
- Washington state Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) grant program funds: $2,255,554
- Washington state community-based child abuse prevention grants (CB-CAP): $5,582,495
The American Rescue Plan includes nutrition assistance, including temporary increases for SNAP and WIC benefits, as well as additional funding for programs that provide aging, disability services, and mental health services.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The American Rescue Plan provides funding to temporarily boost the value of the Cash Value Voucher (CVV) in the WIC program up to $35 per month for women and children for a four-month period during the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain program requirements are also being waived during the pandemic to increase access to benefits.
Click here for more information on accessing WIC benefits in Washington state.
Child Nutrition Programs
The bills have included additional funding and waivers of program requirements for Child Nutrition Programs to ensure children receive meals while school is not in session and to ensure access to nutritious meals and snacks for children enrolled at day care centers, participating in afterschool meal programs, and residing in emergency shelters, as well as older Americans or those living with a disability enrolled in day care facilities.
A new Pandemic EBT program is available to ensure access to emergency food benefits for school children. This program was authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide eligible school children with temporary emergency nutrition benefits loaded on EBT cards. Children who would have received free or reduced-price meals if their schools were not closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance for at least five consecutive days are eligible to receive Pandemic EBT benefits. The American Rescue Plan allows the Pandemic EBT program to be implemented for any school year in which the COVID-19 public health emergency designation is in effect and allows for benefits to be extended through the summer.
The American Rescue Plan also temporarily expands the age of eligibility for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) at emergency homeless shelters from 18 to 25 for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Rescue Plan provides a projected $7.1 billion to Washington’s state and local governments to help pay for COVID-19 response efforts and to bolster budgets that have sustained significant tax revenue loss due to the pandemic. Click here to see a full list of funding going to localities across Washington state.
Funds provided to cities and counties will be sent in two equally divided allocations: the first by May 10th and the second no later than a year after the first payment is made. All funding provided under this section will remain available for use through December 31, 2024.
The funding may be used to:
- Respond to the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, and aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality;
- Fill in for revenue reductions to continue to fund government services; or
- Make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
Limitations on use: The funding provided in the American Rescue Plan may not be used to offset a reduction in taxes or as deposits into any public pension fund.
The American Rescue Plan provides $7.2 billion in new funding for public and private schools and public libraries to purchase Internet access and connected devices. A portion of this funding will go to schools and libraries in Washington state. Details are below.
Emergency Connectivity Fund
- The American Rescue Plan provides $7.2 in additional funding through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) universal service schools and libraries program (also known as E-Rate).
- This funding will be distributed to public and private schools and public libraries to purchase Internet access and connected devices (including hotspots, routers, modems and computers) for students, educators and library patrons who lack home Internet access, a connected device, or both. Schools and libraries are eligible to purchase eligible services and equipment for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic plus at least one year.
- Schools and libraries will be reimbursed through the program for 100% of the costs associated with the eligible services and equipment.
- The FCC is reviewing and approving applications. Click here for more information on the program.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
You may also be eligible for relief provided by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (COVID relief law) that Congress passed in December 2020. The Emergency Broadband Benefit program is administered by the FCC and funded at $3.2 billion nationally. The program provides a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount to purchase Internet-connected devices. Interested households can click here to visit the FCC’s website for more information.
Congress has passed several rounds of financial assistance and relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including most recently the American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan includes additional assistance for the more than half a million veterans in Washington state.
Veterans Health Administration (VHA): $14.5 billion for health care services and additional resources to care for our nation’s veterans.
Increased Claims and Appeals Processing: $272 million to VA to mitigate the backlog in claims processing caused by the pandemic.
State Veterans Homes: $500 million to help states upgrade State Veterans Homes across the country and $250 million in one-time emergency grants to support these facilities and ensure they can care for our veterans during the pandemic.
I am a veteran who is awaiting my federal records so I can file a disability claim with VA and receive compensation. How will this legislation help me?
Funds from the American Rescue Plan will be used to expand the scanning of service records from federal records facilities impacted by COVID-19 so that veterans can have speedier access to their documents and allow them to file their claims for benefits.
I’m a veteran who lost my job during the pandemic. Do I qualify for the Rapid Retraining Program? And how do I apply?
Veterans between the ages of 22 and 66, who are unemployed due to COVID-19, and do not have any remaining eligibility under any other VA education benefits qualify for the Rapid Retraining Assistance Program. Similar to other VA education programs, veterans will apply to VA to confirm their eligibility before selecting a program of training or education.
I’m a VA health care provider or employee under Title 38. How does legislation increase my leave options?
The American Rescue Plan provides full-time employees up-to 600 hours of emergency paid leave (proportional for part-time employees) for Title 38 employees who are unable to work for reasons including, but not limited to: being under a quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19; having been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19; caring for a child who is affected by a school-closure; or is receiving a COVID-19 immunization or is receiving from that immunization.
I run a State Veterans Home. How much can I expect to receive from VA for my one-time emergency payment?
The $250 million for one-time emergency payments to support State Veterans Homes will be apportioned to state homes based on the current census of veteran residents in the state home. Based on the most recent data, State Veterans Homes can expect about $14,285 per veteran who is residing in their state home (for whom VA already pays per diem).
I run a State Veterans Home, is there anything in the legislation that can help me with construction costs or renovations for my home?
Yes. There is $500 million for construction or renovation of state veterans homes – known as the Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities program. This funding, overseen by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), will generally go toward federal-matching funds (up to 65 percent) for states and territories that have already submitted applications to VA and have also secured their state matching funds. In addition, the previous CARES Act law, as modified by Section 513 of Public Law 116-260, provides $150 million in construction funding specifically targeted at COVID-19 preparation, prevention, and response.
For more information about how the VA is supporting veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here to visit the VA’s coronavirus response website, or contact your local VA provider.
The American Rescue Plan provides for $4 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide additional relief for farmers, producers, and processors, a portion of which will be allocated to Washington state. It also provides over $1 billion for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Details are below.
Assistance to Agricultural Producers, Processors, and Fisheries from USDA
The American Rescue Plan provides $4 billion to the USDA to provide additional relief for agricultural producers, which will build off the $1.5 billion provided in the December omnibus. Of the $4 billion, $3.6 billion of the new funds will be used:
- To purchase food and agricultural commodities and seafood, including for distribution to individuals in need in partnership with nonprofit organizations and restaurants;
- To make grants and loans to small or midsized food producers or distributors, seafood processors, and farmers markets to respond to COVID-19, including measures to protect workers; and
- To make payments for certain crop losses.
USDA will use $300 million to conduct animal surveillance related to COVID-19 and $100 million is provided to reduce the amount of overtime inspection costs for federally inspected small and very small meat, poultry, and egg processors.
The $4 billion from the American Rescue Plan is in addition to the $13 billion provided by the December COVID relief law, which included:
- $9.7 billion for assistance to farmers and ranchers, including specialty crops, and floriculture; and
- $1.5 billion to purchase food, agricultural products, and seafood for individuals in need.
The December COVID relief law also included $300 million for the NOAA fisheries disaster assistance program established under the CARES Act (and also funded at $300 million under CARES). Interested parties should click here to visit the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission’s site for more information.
Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (USDA)
The American Rescue Plan starts to address the needs of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers by providing $1 billion to the USDA, which will be used for:
- Outreach, mediation, financial training, and cooperative development for socially disadvantaged groups;
- A commission to address racial inequity at the USDA; and
- Research, education, and extension/outreach at universities that serve socially disadvantaged groups, such as Tribal Serving institutions.
Farm Loan Assistance
The American Rescue Plan gives the USDA authority to provide farm loan assistance by making payments of up to 120% of outstanding agricultural loans as of January 1, 2021, to help farmers and ranchers from socially disadvantaged groups.
Click here to check USDA’s website on COVID relief for the latest updates on these programs. In addition, the USDA’s Farm Service Administration (FSA) is expected to continue playing a central role in providing service to agricultural producers. Click here to find local FSA agents and offices.